John Harbaugh has found success as coach of the Ravens, leading the team to the playoffs in all three of his seasons. But one of Baltimore's biggest stars acknowledged Friday that many in the locker room pulled for Rex Ryan to land the job in 2008.
"(Ryan was) like a dad, like a brother, man," Reed told ESPN, in comments reported by The Baltimore Sun. "We wanted Rex as the head coach in Baltimore. We did not want him to leave. It hurt when he left (in 2009). We knew he was a great coach. There was a reason why that defense was the way it was."
Before Ryan guided the Jets to consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances in the 2009 and 2010 seasons, he served as a key figure behind the vaunted Ravens defense. Ryan was the defensive line coach from 1999 to 2004 before a promotion to defensive coordinator duties in 2005.
Ryan held that position for three seasons and was believed to be a serious candidate to replace dismissed coach Brian Billick. The job ultimately went to Harbaugh, who previously had been part of Andy Reid's Philadelphia Eagles staff.
Reed didn't speak negatively of Harbaugh, but he heaped praise on Ryan, whom Harbaugh retained for the 2008 season.
"I would play anywhere with Rex -- in a dark alley, on the street, in high school football, sandlot, anywhere -- because he makes it fun," Reed said. "He loves this game. He truly loves this game, and there's a reason why those guys in New York back him the way they do."
Reed, 32, also discussed his playing future, admitting that recent injuries have him wondering how many years he has left in the NFL.
"I don't want to be like these guys having neck surgery and then you got to have another surgery just to continue to play this game," said Reed, also a five-time All-Pro. "I love this game, but I love myself more."